Modern medical technology and testing can inform expectant parents of debilitating problems affecting a pregnancy. Prenatal testing allows parents to plan for the birth of a child afflicted with a disease or disorder or to make the difficult decision to terminate a pregnancy. When medical personnel mishandle the procedure or misinterpret the results, parents are left without the vital information needed to make the best decisions for their lives and their families.
A Difficult Decision
This was the unfortunate case for a Portland, Oregon couple, Ariel and Deborah Levy. The couple sued Legacy Health System in Multnomah County Circuit Court, winning $29 million to help them pay for the extraordinary costs of raising a child with Down syndrome – a child they would have decided not to have, had they known about the developing baby’s condition.
Medical professionals regularly offer assurances that a pregnancy is normal through administering and interpreting prenatal tests. Relying upon these assurances when the test was botched exposes a family to life-shattering negative consequences. Because of the considerable expense of providing specialized care for the child, families can face financial ruin. Local news website OregonLive.com reported the Levy’s story, noting that 89 percent of pregnant women choose to terminate their pregnancy upon learning that their child would be born with Down syndrome.
One Tragedy Becomes Two
CBS.com reported on a second case with even more tragic consequences. Continue reading
Mothers may not realize the risk they pose to their children when they choose epidurals. According to a recent American Academy of Pediatrics Journal study, the risk of infant injury increases during delivery as the mother’s body temperature rises. Such a rise in temperature is a common side effect of epidural injections. Other epidural side effects can cause direct harm to newborns.
In the Journal’s study, a total of 2,784 women’s medical records were reviewed. Candidates in the study all showed healthy, low-risk pregnancies, and were 37 weeks along or more. Researchers divided the women into two test groups: those who chose epidurals, and those who did not. In 19.2% of cases, mothers receiving epidurals showed temperatures exceeding 100.4° during delivery. The rate for those who chose not to receive an epidural was only 2.4%.
Fever Side Effects
The effects of increased maternal temperature varied for their babies. Continue reading
In most instances, it is terrifying to have a family member admitted to the hospital. The hope is that the medical staff will help your loved one overcome their ailments, but what happens when something goes wrong and the hospital is to blame?
The families in this article are victims of medical staff negligence who fought back. Doctors and other staff receive extensive, ongoing education and support to prevent them from making fatal or extremely harmful mistakes. If they do not receive this support and training or if they do receive it and still fail to properly care for patients, then victims deserve compensation from the hospital. Compensation can cover costs of hospital bills, future treatment, funeral expenses, counseling fees, and the burdens of physical and emotional suffering.
Minor Mistake, Lethal Results
A recent article in the Washingtonian chronicled the sad story of 80-year-old Frances Barnes. When Barnes suffered a stroke in 2008, she was taken to Howard University Hospital for treatment. After about two weeks in the hospital, Barnes began to complain of pain in her legs. Her daughter removed the compression stockings on Barnes’ legs only to discover that her mother’s left foot had turned black.
According to a DC Department of Health investigation, hospital staff had failed to follow the doctor’s orders to remove the stockings for at least 30 minutes during each shift. As a result, Barnes developed a severe infection that could not be healed and required the amputation of her lower leg. After being released from the hospital, Barnes was moved to a nursing home where she continued to get infections and died a mere five months later. Barnes’ surviving family filed suit against the hospital, the results of which were not made public.
CBS New York reported the tragic loss of six month old, Amaan Ahmmad. In October 2011, Ahmmad was admitted to Brookdale University Hospital to be treated for pneumonia. Watching her child struggle to breath while he received antibiotics through an IV drip, Ahmmad’s mother expressed concern to hospital staff that her son was dying. She was told that her son was fine and simply sleeping. Continue reading
A Connecticut law allegedly aimed to prevent frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits appears to be keeping many legitimate claims out of court. A recent article published by the Associated Press chronicles several medical malpractice claims. All seem to have legitimate cause to receive their day in court, yet all fail to make it before a jury.
The Expert Opinion
The 2005 Connecticut law is simple. Plaintiffs in any medical malpractice case are required to provide an opinion letter, written by an expert in the field, backing up their allegations. It must be filed along with the claim. The wording of the law says that the experts must have “similar” credentials to that of the medical professional accused of malpractice. Many state judges have determined “similar” to mean “identical.” As a result, legitimate claims are being denied because the expert’s credentials are not exactly the same as those of the defendant.
Loss of a Young Life
Patricia Votre knew her pregnancy would be high-risk after having suffered one miscarriage due to an incompetent cervix. She took the precaution of insisting that her doctor consult experts at Yale University regarding her pregnancy. Her doctor consented.
However, when she began having complications, her doctor refused to turn her care over to the experts at Yale and refused to show her the Yale group’s recommendations. Continue reading
Giving birth to a child in a hospital setting is usually a happy occasion. Relatives and friends visit to share the joy of a new baby’s arrival into the world. For Kimberly VanSlembrouck, however, things did not turn out this way. Her daughter, Markell, was born in a Michigan hospital with severe birth injuries due to the doctor’s negligence. Kimberly was in labor for 40 hours, and though the doctor should have performed a cesarean section, he did not. Instead, the doctor forced Kimberly’s baby through her birth canal. Markell was born with a fractured clavicle, hemorrhaging and severe brain damage. When questioned, the doctor insisted genetics were responsible for Markell’s physical condition. A jury, however, disagreed with the doctor. The Detroit News reports that in a lawsuit filed against the doctor and the hospital, a jury awarded Kimberly VanSlembrouck $144 million.
Inattentiveness to Distress Signals
Sometimes the labor-inducing drug Pitocin is administered to pregnant women. Pitocin is often used in conjunction with an epidural anesthesia to counteract the slowdown of labor caused by the anesthesia. Although Pitocin is usually safe and effective with careful monitoring, its most common side effect is an interrupted oxygen supply to the baby.
In an unrelated Illinois case, a mother was given Pitocin to induce labor. The hospital staff failed to respond to the baby’s distress due to lack of oxygen, and this inaction caused a brain injury. The mother filed a medical negligence lawsuit against the hospital. NBC News reports that the family and hospital reached a settlement agreement of $6.5 million.
In a similar Canadian case, the Vancouver Sun reports on the parents of a baby who suffered severe brain injury in an Alberta hospital. The parents filed a lawsuit against the hospital, doctors and several of the nurses. After 40 hours of labor, Rebecka May gave birth to a baby boy whose umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck. The baby had a serious brain injury and later died. The nurses failed to inform the physician of the baby’s distress, and the physician failed to perform a cesarean section even though the emergency surgery was needed to save the baby from injury.
Victims of Medical Malpractice: A Course of Action
Doctors and hospitals are trusted to take the utmost care with babies born each day. When medical professionals abuse that trust by causing harm to babies and their families, they should be held accountable. Continue reading
Many people, especially women, spend money on cosmetic surgery. Some choose to improve their physical appearance; others opt to fix deformities caused by accidents or birth defects. The surgery can have a positive effect on patients by increasing their self-esteem, but if not done right, it can have the undesired result of health complications or even death.
Negative and unintended consequences can result from improper procedures, use of substandard products or unlicensed professionals performing such work. A story in USA Today reported the case of Florida woman Lee Howard who died after having a liposuction procedure performed. The doctor who performed the procedure, Alberto Sant Antonio, was not licensed, but offered to do the liposuction treatment anyway. He administered lidocaine during the procedure without measuring it, leading to excessively high levels of the drug in the woman’s body. He then prescribed her pain medication leading to a toxic mix of drugs that her body could not handle.
Mrs. Howard arrived home after the procedure and felt unwell. She laid down on the couch to rest, and passed away in her sleep sometime that evening. Tragically, her 10-year-old son found her lifeless body the next morning. She was only 32 years old.
Unlicensed and Untrained Cosmetic Surgeons
Unfortunately, cases in which unskilled physicians perform cosmetic surgery without proper training and licensing are common. Continue reading
A record-breaking $58.6 million was recently awarded to the family of an eight-year-old boy who suffered severe brain damage during birth because of a negligent doctor at Stamford Hospital.
The award is the highest ever paid for a single cause of medical malpractice in the state of Connecticut. According to The Hartford Courant’s Courant.com, the doctor waited too long to perform a Cesarean section, causing the boy’s condition. The boy now suffers from cerebral palsy and permanent brain damage. He cannot walk, eat or talk. He uses a wheelchair, has to eat through a tube and is incontinent.
Family Struggles to Conceive Only to Suffer Birth Injury
The D’Attilo family struggled to have a child. While her husband Domenic had a daughter from a previous marriage, Cathy D’Atillo desperately wanted a child. Cathy underwent in-vitro fertilization to conceive her son Daniel. The couple was overjoyed to finally be pregnant after six years of trying. On February 2, 2003, the family was at Stamford Hospital, anxiously awaiting their son’s arrival into the world.
Sadly, D’Attilo’s labor ran into complications. Continue reading
Texas governor and presidential hopeful, Rick Perry, thinks tort reform laws should change to include the English rule. The Washington Times recently reported that Perry believes the loser of a lawsuit should pay the defense costs for the winner. On the surface, Perry’s argument makes sense. Only those who are sure they have been wronged will file lawsuits.
What that argument overlooks, however, is the difficulty of proving medical malpractice when it happens. Even in cases in which doctors have clearly made medical mistakes, it can be hard to convince a jury. In the worst-case scenario, a wronged family might end up paying for a negligent doctor’s defense costs.
Parents of Deceased Daughter Face Consequences
One clear example of unfairness in the English rule lies in the case of 19-year-old Krystal Mohr. The local newspaper, the Sacramento Bee, told the story of how she died of a brain hemorrhage on September 4, 2006, after doctors delayed getting her proper treatment. Krystal’s father, Richard, brought her to Mercy Hospital of Folsom, CA, owned by Catholic Healthcare West, at 12:16 a.m. on September 3. Trial briefs show that no neurologist was available at Mercy, so Dr. Ken Johnson called Krystal’s health insurer, Kaiser, to find out where to send her. She did not arrive for treatment at Kaiser Morse Hospital until 4:40 a.m. By then, it was too late. Krystal never recovered, dying the next day. In the absence of insurance, Krystal might have made it to a closer hospital that could have cared for her more quickly.
Richard and wife Batrice Mohr sued Dr. Johnson and Catholic Healthcare West over their daughter’s death. Continue reading